Understanding Chess Terms: Check,
Checkmate and Stalemate

Understanding Chess Terms: Check, Checkmate and Stalemate

Mumbai, November 13, 2020

Chess is one of the oldest board games and is popular even today. This game requires your wit, attention and presence of mind. The objective of the Chess game is to capture the king of the opposite team and claim their kingdom.

Chess is a two-player game and is celebrated across countries. Being said that, there are still many chess players who do not know everything about the game.

The three important concepts of chess are check, checkmate, and stalemate. We will take you through a brief understanding of these terms. We will also help you to understand what you need to do to avoid certain situations.

Understanding the terms

Chess has existed since the 6th century. The game was known as a “royal game” as it was popular among the royal families. The rules evolved and changed until they reached today’s standard. Let us delve deep and understand some of the essential terms like check, checkmate and stalemate.


As we mentioned earlier, the game of chess is all about capturing the king of the other side. Now the catch is, it is not only the king but the whole army that you need to defeat in order to capture the king.

What does “check” in a chess game mean? It simply means that the king is being attacked by the opposite side, and can be killed. If your king is in check by the opposite piece or opposite pawn, the king becomes the priority over every other piece. So, you have to get the check situation in control. You can do that by doing one of the three things we listed below:

A. Block the check:

Whenever you find an opposite pawn ready to attack your king, you can interpose another piece between the attacker and the king. This will lead in two things, your piece getting killed or force the attacker to step back. This is a proven strategy for avoiding check.

B. Move the king

Another good way is to move king on a safer block where the opposition cannot attack him again. This is another way to help your king stay safe.

C. Capture the opposition

Another best way to avoid the check in chess is to capture the cause. It is simple, if someone is attacking your king, you attack them in return. This move may sometimes lead to capturing your piece too, so make sure you safeguard them well.

So whenever your King is in check, use a valid move to safeguard your king. Let us move on to checkmate.


We just discussed how check in chess works. The main aim of check is to confirm the opposition that their king will be killed if you don’t take proper steps. How is checkmate different from a check?

Simply, telling your opposition that their king can no longer move out or save himself is known as checkmate. When the opposition says “Checkmate”, it means that the king does not have any valid or legal moves left to move. It also means that the king is under attack.

A king cannot be in a checkmate position if he is not in check. Therefore, be careful when you play a chess game and someone says, “Checkmate”. What should you do when you are in a Checkmate?

A. Check again

Your king cannot be a checkmate if he is not in check. You have to check for the check and see if there are any valid or legal moves still left to survive the game.

B. Try to capture

You have to check if any of your pieces can capture the opposition pawn or piece when they declare checkmate on your king.

Now that you know about check and checkmate, let us move on to stalemate which you can use to your advantage if you play smart.


We just understood check and checkmate. The only difference between the two is that check warns, and checkmate declares the winner. One rule about the game of chess is that you cannot play any illegal moves as the moves are pre-decided for a reason. There is no exception of any kind for anyone.

That is exactly where stalemate comes into the picture. This is one of the confusing rules of chess, and we will thoroughly explain it to you. It is simply something that can be used to the advantage by the losing team.

Stalemate is a situation in the game of chess where your king is not in check but also does not have a legal move or valid move left on the board. This happens, if the king is in such a position where one move can put him in a checkmate position, and there is no other move left.

So, if you are losing the game of chess, try your best to put your king in the stalemate position, so the game is drawn. There is no winner in the case of stalemate.

Understanding these terms will take you a step closer to your win. You can play online chess effortlessly on MPL Pro app. So what are you waiting for? Start playing and learn better.

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